Monday , March 4 2024
Oh c’mon — how can you go wrong with Bela Lugosi and stop motion dinosaurs?

DVD Reviews: RifftraxPlanet Of Dinosaurs & Voodoo Man

Bad movies are like zombies: numerous and relentless. No matter what you do, they always manage to come back bite you. Now, whereas George A. Romero would advise you to fire a bullet into the head of your would-be undead assailant, the fellers over at Rifftrax have a different approach: humiliate it. Yes, nothing throws off an attacker quite like an insult. Trust me, it’s something I found out way back in high school. My point? Well, none really — except that Michael J. Nelson and Rifftrax have teamed up with Legend Films to release two more Rifftrax titles for us to add to our DVD collections.

The first title, 1944’s Voodoo Man, hails from Poverty Row studio Monogram Pictures. The film stars the great Bela Lugosi as a mad doctor (what else?), intent on transferring the soul of his dead (yet still kinda alive) wife into the body of a much livelier woman. Using state-of-the-art methods such as hypnosis, mixed with a l’il of that ol’ black magic from Haiti — courtesy of local gas station attendant (!) George Zucco. Their previous attempts at a soul transfer didn’t amount to much, so Lugosi has a hoard of zombie chicks standing around in specially-designed cubicles in his ginormous basement. John Carradine takes a few bites out of the scenery as Lugosi’s dimwitted servant.

For the Rifftrax version, our host Mike Nelson tags his guest riffers Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett into the ring, and the three offer up yet another uproarious comical commentary, capping on everything from George Zucco’s embarrassingly-bad “rituals” to sheriff Henry Hall’s bizarre line, “Gosh all fishhook!” Even on its own, Voodoo Man is a fun film to watch — so, should you decide to do so (and you should), you can watch it without the Rifftrax commentary (a great big “Yes!”). As a side note, I should point out that Voodoo Man is a “Rifftrax Exclusive” — and this is the only official DVD release out there.

Our second entry is the much more enjoyable Planet Of Dinosaurs. A zero-budget wonder from 1978, Planet Of Dinosaurs showcases some fairly nice (if dated) stop motion animation in this futuristic tale of survival. Ejecting from their mother ship following a mechanical goof, the crew and passengers of the Odyssey (of which James Whitworth from the original The Hills Have Eyes is the biggest star) crash-land on a primitive planet akin to our own Earth. Except for this one has big, flesh-eating dinosaurs, which cause the wimpy humans to whiz down their legs and hightail it to Vazquez Rocks.

Guest riffer Kevin Murphy probably explains Planet Of Dinosaurs best by asking “How did the cast of a ‘70s porn film get a spaceship?” Indeed, the entire cast of Planet Of Dinosaurs has that certain late, disco-era, lived-in quality about them (no offense, people) that we’ve all seen in the adult films of the same period (well, I’ve seen ‘em — I can’t speak for your personal taste in porn…nor do I want to). Many of the actors are hairy, homely, and horrendous to boot. The spaceship special effects in the beginning are everything a bad ‘70s sci-fi movie should be, while the dinosaur animation is considerably better — but still easy to laugh at (especially in today’s desensitized CGI world).

Another victim of the Public Domain, Planet Of Dinosaurs is also viewable with or without the Rifftrax hijinks. Much like Voodoo Man, Planet Of Dinosaurs deserves at least one “serious” viewing — although watching this one with the Rifftrax commentary on is definitely required viewing. Actually, both of these entries should be required viewing: Voodoo Man gives us a rare chance to finally see the damn thing, while Planet Of Dinosaurs is just plain funny. These two titles are available exclusively through the Rifftrax website.

About Luigi Bastardo

Luigi Bastardo is the alter-ego of a feller who loves an eclectic variety of classic (and sometimes not-so-classic) film and television. He currently lives in Northern California with four cats named Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and Margaret. Seriously.

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